Miracle Under the Mistletoe - Page 2

‘Hello, Molly. Long time, no see, as the saying goes.’

Molly’s eyes flew open as she stared at the man standing in front of her. A wave of panic washed over her as she drank in all the familiar details, from the jet-black hair falling over his forehead to the deep blue eyes that were studying her with undisguised amusement. This man had been her one and only aberration. Even though she had known from the outset that he was far from being her ideal life partner, she had had an affair with him. He had possessed none of the qualities she had always deemed essential in a relationship. On the contrary, he wasn’t reliable or trustworthy, and he definitely wasn’t looking for commitment, but she had gone ahead anyway and slept with him. Now, as she saw the smile that curved his lips, Molly realised that any hopes she may have harboured about him being a figment of her imagination had been way off beam. Sean Fitzgerald wasn’t some kind of hallucination. He wasn’t even a memory dredged up from her past. He was completely and utterly real!

* * *

Sean managed to hold his smile but it wasn’t easy. Although he had guessed that Molly might not be exactly overjoyed to see him again, he hadn’t envisaged this reaction. As he took stock of the pallor of her skin, he was overcome by a feeling of shame he had never experienced before. It didn’t matter that he had made his intentions perfectly clear from their very first date, or that he had frequently reiterated the fact that he didn’t intend to commit himself to anyone. He had hurt her. Badly.

Sean’s heart sank as that thought hit home. He had thought long and hard when the agency had phoned and offered him this post as locum senior registrar on Dalverston’s A&E unit. He had been very aware that working with Molly could turn out to be challenging to say the least. His initial reaction had been to turn it down but in the end he had decided to accept it. He needed to work over the Christmas period, needed to be kept busy so that he wouldn’t dwell on the past. He couldn’t bear to leave it to chance that another post would come up, so he had set aside his qualms and accepted the offer. Now, however, he couldn’t help wondering if it had been selfish to put his own needs first.

‘I wasn’t sure who would be working tonight,’ he said lightly, struggling to behave as normally as possible. That was the key to handling this situation, he assured himself. After all, it wasn’t the first time that he had found himself working with a woman he had dated and subsequently dumped and he had learned from experience that the best way to defuse matters was by acting normally. All he could do was hope that it would work this time too, although something warned him that he was being overly optimistic.

‘No? You should have asked for a copy of the roster. Then you could have opted to work a different shift and avoided me, as I’m sure we both would have preferred.’

Molly’s voice sounded harsh and so unlike the tone he remembered that Sean frowned. However, before he could say anything, she picked up a file from the desk and headed towards the waiting room. He watched her go, feeling a whole host of emotions hit him one after the other—slam, bang, wallop: regret, sadness, an unfamiliar sense of loss...

Sean blanked them all out, knowing how pointless it was to go down that route. He had done what he had had to do: ended their relationship when he had realised that Molly was getting far too attached to him. He had, in effect, done the honourable thing, he assured himself as he headed to the staffroom to deposit his coat. He had called a halt before things had gone too far—although how far was too far? he wondered suddenly as he keyed in the security code and unlocked the door. Should he have stopped after their first kiss? Or before they had slept together? And surely he should have called a halt before it had happened a second and a third time, even if making love with Molly had been the most wonderful experience of his life?

The door closed behind him with a noisy thud but he didn’t even notice. Making love with Molly had been mind-blowing and there was no point denying it. He had felt things when they had made love that he had never felt before, not even with Claire, and the thought was so painful that he winced. Was that why he had been so brusque when he had ended his relationship with Molly? Because he had felt guilty? Had it seemed like the ultimate betrayal of the woman he had been going to marry to feel all those things for Molly?

Sean knew it was true and it didn’t make him feel any better to admit it. For the past ten years he had remained faithful to his dead fiancée. Oh, admittedly, he had slept with many women during that time but he had never become emotionally involved with any of them, and that was what counted. However, it had been different with Molly. She had touched him on so many levels; their affair hadn’t been purely physical, as he had wanted it to be.

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